Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

June 20, 1912

The Duty of Workers to Care for Their Health

Mrs. E. G. White

Health is a blessing of which few appreciate the value; yet upon it the efficiency of our mental and physical powers largely depends. Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body, and it must be kept in the best condition physically and under the most spiritual influences in order that our talents may be put to the highest use. Anything that lessens physical strength enfeebles the mind, and makes it less capable of discriminating between right and wrong.

The misuse of our physical powers shortens the time in which our lives can be used for the glory of God, and it unfits us to accomplish the work God has given us to do. By allowing ourselves to form wrong habits, by keeping late hours, by gratifying appetite at the expense of health, we lay the foundation for feebleness. By neglecting physical exercise, by overworking mind or body, we unbalance the nervous system. Those who thus shorten their lives and unfit themselves for service by disregarding nature's laws, are guilty of robbery toward God. And they are robbing their fellow men also. The opportunity of blessing others, the very work for which God sent them into the world, has by their own course of action been cut short. And they have unfitted themselves to do even that which in a briefer period of time they might have accomplished. The Lord holds us guilty when by our injurious habits we thus deprive the world of good.

The health of the Lord's messengers should be carefully considered. As the true watchman goes forth bearing precious seed, sowing beside all waters, weeping and praying, the burden of labor is very taxing to mind and heart. He can not keep up the strain continuously—his soul stirred to the very depths—without wearing out prematurely. Strength and efficiency are needed in every discourse. And from time to time, fresh supplies of things new and old need to be brought forth from the storehouse of God's Word. This will impart life and power to the hearers. God does not want his workers to become so exhausted that their efforts have no freshness nor life.

I can sympathize with some of my brethren who have strong feelings but not strong bodies. I do not know what we should do without men who feel intensely. But God would have these workers regard the laws of life and health; for when they are exhausted by long speaking and praying, or much writing, the enemy takes advantage of the tired condition of their nerves, and causes them to be impatient and to move rashly. It was at the close of Christ's long fast in the wilderness that Satan thought to gain the victory over him. But Christ drove him from the field of battle, and came off conqueror. Even so may those who preach the word today overcome when tempted in a similar way. But it is necessary that they labor with discretion, in order that they may preserve health and strength in the best possible condition; then, when occasion requires, they can put forth special efforts, and, relying upon him who has conquered the enemy in their behalf, can come off more than conquerors.

While God's workers are to be filled with a noble enthusiasm, and with a determination to follow the example of the divine Worker, they are not to crowd too many things into the day's work. If they do this, they will soon have to leave the work entirely, broken down because they have tried to carry too heavy a load. It is right for them to make the best use of the advantages given them of God in earnest efforts for the relief of suffering and for the salvation of souls; but they are not to sacrifice health. We have a calling as much higher than common, selfish interests as the heavens are higher than the earth. But this thought should not lead the willing servants of God to carry all the burdens they can possibly bear, without periods of rest.

How good it would be if among all who are engaged in carrying out God's wonderful plan for the salvation of souls, there were no idlers! How much more would be accomplished if every one would say, “God holds me accountable to be wide awake, and to let my efforts speak in favor of the truth I profess to believe. I am to be a practical worker, not a day-dreamer.” It is because there are so many day-dreamers that true workers have to carry a double burden. Writing by the Spirit, Paul says: “As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It is the part of a medical missionary to minister to the needs of the soul as well as the needs of the body. Those who put the whole soul into the medical missionary work, who labor untiringly in peril, in privation, in watchings oft, in weariness and painfulness, are in danger of forgetting that they must be faithful guardians of their own mental and physical powers. They are not to allow themselves to be overtaxed. But they are filled with zeal and earnestness, and sometimes they move unadvisedly, putting themselves under too heavy a strain. Unless such workers make a change, the result will be that sickness will come upon them, and they will break down.

We need as workers to keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As workers together with God, we are to draw souls to Christ. We are to remember that each has a special part to act in the Master's service. O, how much good the members of the church might accomplish if they realized the responsibility resting upon them to point those with whom they come in contact to the Redeemer. When church-members shall disinterestedly engage in the work given them of God, a much stronger influence will be exerted in behalf of souls ready to die, and much more earnest efforts will be put forth in medical missionary lines. When every member of the church does his part faithfully, the workers in the field will be helped and encouraged and the cause of God will move forward with power.

Some of our ministers feel that they must every day perform some labor that they can report to the conference. As a result of trying to do this, their efforts are often weak and inefficient. They should have periods of rest, of entire freedom from taxing labor; but these can not take the place of daily physical exercise.

Brethren, when you take time to cultivate your garden, thus gaining the exercise needed to keep the system in good working order, you are just as much doing the work of God as in holding meetings. God is our Father, he loves us, and he does not require any of his servants to abuse their bodies.

Another cause, both of ill health and of inefficiency in labor, is indigestion. It is impossible for the brain to do its best work when the digestive powers are abused. Many eat hurriedly of various kinds of food; this causes war in the stomach, and confuses the brain. The use of unwholesome food, and overeating of even that which is wholesome, should alike be avoided. Many eat at all hours, regardless of the laws of health. Then gloom covers the mind. How can men be honored with divine enlightenment when they are so reckless in their habits, so inattentive to the light which God has given in regard to these things? Brethren, is it not time for you to be converted on these points of selfish indulgence? “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Study these words earnestly.

Life is a holy trust, which God alone can enable us to keep, and to use to his glory. But he who formed the wonderful structure of the body will take special care to keep it in order if men do not work at cross-purposes with him. Every talent entrusted to us he will help us to improve and use in accordance with the will of the Giver. Days, months, and years are added to our existence that we may improve our opportunities and advantages for working out our individual salvation, and by our unselfish life promote the well-being of others. Thus may we build up the kingdom of Christ, and make manifest the glory of God.

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